Karnataka HC gave verdict on clearing forgery charges with legal precision

Case Title: Smt. Vasanthi vs. Sri. Umesh G.D.

Case Number: NC: 2024:KHC:16162

Dated On: 23rd April 2024

Quorum: Hon’ble Mr. Justice Suraj Govindaraj


 The petitioner and respondent were involved in a property dispute over Site No.6. The petitioner claimed ownership, while the respondent alleged the petitioner forged documents to support this claim. On November 24, 2015, the petitioner initiated a civil lawsuit (OS No.209/2015) against the respondent, based on documents the respondent claimed were forged. These documents were central to the petitioner’s claim in the lawsuit. On December 7, 2015, the respondent filed a criminal complaint against the petitioner, accusing them of fabricating and forging documents related to the property dispute. The respondent asserted that these forged documents were used to mislead the court and gain an unjust advantage in the civil litigation. Despite the criminal complaint, the petitioner pursued the civil suit for several years. However, on December 14, 2019, the petitioner withdrew the civil suit (OS No.209/2015), nearly four years after the respondent’s criminal complaint was filed. On December 11, 2017, the petitioner filed a petition (CRL.P No. 9791 of 2017) to quash the criminal proceedings initiated by the respondent’s complaint. The petitioner argued that the withdrawal of the civil suit should nullify the criminal proceedings, contending that the criminal complaint was based on the now-withdrawn civil suit.


  1. Whether the bar under Section 195(1)(b)(ii) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) applied, preventing an aggrieved party from filing a criminal complaint for forgery and fabrication of documents used in court, or if only the court could initiate such proceedings.
  2. Whether the respondent, who owned Site No.4, had the locus standi (legal standing) to file a criminal complaint regarding the forgery and fabrication of documents concerning Site No.6.
  3. Whether the withdrawal of the civil suit (OS No.209/2015) by the petitioner should result in the quashing of the criminal proceedings initiated by the respondent’s complaint, and if the basis for the criminal complaint was nullified by the withdrawal of the suit.
  4. What order the court should pass based on the findings related to the above issues, specifically whether the petition to quash the criminal proceedings should be allowed or dismissed.


  1. Section 195 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.):
    • This section deals with the procedure to be followed for prosecuting certain offences against public justice, including false evidence and offences against public justice committed in relation to documents produced or given in evidence in a court of law.
    • Section 195(1)(b)(ii): Specifically prevents courts from taking cognizance of offences described in Sections 463, 471, 475, and 476 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) when such offences pertain to documents produced or given in evidence in a court, unless there is a complaint in writing from that court or some other court to which that court is subordinate.
  2. Section 463 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC):
    • Defines the offence of forgery, detailing how making a false document with the intent to cause damage or injury, or to support any claim or title, or to cause any person to part with property, is punishable.
  3. Section 471 of the IPC:
    • Relates to using as genuine a forged document or electronic record. It criminalises the use of any forged document or electronic record as genuine, knowing or having reason to believe the same to be forged.
  4. Section 340 of the Cr.P.C.:
    • Provides the procedure for courts to follow when it appears that an offence described in Section 195 of the Cr.P.C. has been committed. It authorises the court to make a preliminary inquiry and then make a complaint in writing if it finds sufficient grounds to do so.
  5. Section 200 of the Cr.P.C.:
    • Pertains to the procedure for a Magistrate taking cognizance of an offence on a complaint. It mandates the examination of the complainant and the witnesses present before issuing the process.


The appellant argued that the respondent, owner of Site No.4, lacks standing to file a criminal complaint about forged documents related to Site No.6. Only those directly affected by the alleged forgery of Site No.6 should file such a complaint. The appellant asserted that the withdrawal of the civil suit (OS No.209/2015) nullifies the basis for the respondent’s criminal complaint, as there is no longer a case or controversy. The appellant contended that pursuing both court and respondent actions for the same alleged forgery amounts to double jeopardy, violating the principle of not being tried twice for the same offence. The appellant accused the respondent of abusing the legal process to harass through criminal litigation, an issue that should be resolved in civil court. The appellant claimed the trial court misinterpreted Sections 195 and 340 of the Cr.P.C., incorrectly allowing the respondent to file a complaint. Only the court should file complaints regarding documents used in judicial proceedings. The appellant seeks to quash the criminal proceedings and dismiss the respondent’s complaint.


The respondent argued that the appellant forged documents related to Site No.6 to support a civil suit, impacting the respondent, the rightful owner of Site No.4. This forgery aimed to mislead the court for an unlawful advantage. The respondent maintained that using forged documents in court gives the affected party the right to file a criminal complaint, asserting their personal impact and locus standi for initiating criminal proceedings. Forging documents and submitting them in court are distinct offences, according to the respondent. Thus, prosecuting both does not violate double jeopardy. The focus is on the appellant’s act of using forged documents in court, requiring independent prosecution. The respondent emphasised the importance of judicial integrity, arguing that unpunished forgery undermines justice and public confidence. The court must address any process abuse to uphold the rule of law. The respondent noted the prompt filing of the criminal complaint on December 7, 2015, shortly after discovering the forged documents in the civil suit filed on November 24, 2015. This timely action highlighted the seriousness of the allegations. Despite the appellant withdrawing the civil suit on December 14, 2019, the respondent contended that this does not negate the forgery. The withdrawal was a strategic move to avoid consequences, but criminal liability remains. Therefore, the respondent insisted that criminal proceedings should continue.


 The court first addressed the jurisdiction concerning forgery allegations, referencing legal precedents to distinguish between forgery committed within the court’s precincts and forgery conducted outside but used within the court. It emphasised that forgery outside the court, later used in legal proceedings, does not automatically trigger the jurisdictional bar under Section 195 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.). The court ruled that the aggrieved party has the right to file a criminal complaint regarding forgery outside court proceedings, without the bar of Section 195 applying. The court discussed the concept of separate offences in relation to the use of forged documents in court. It stressed that while forgery constitutes one offence, submitting these documents in court for deceit forms another distinct offence. Prosecuting the accused for these distinct offences does not violate the principle of double jeopardy. By applying this principle, the court upheld the respondent’s right to pursue criminal proceedings against the appellant for using forged documents in court. Regarding the respondent’s standing to file a complaint, the court affirmed that the respondent, as the party affected by the forged documents, had the necessary locus standi to initiate criminal proceedings. The court acknowledged the timely filing of the complaint by the respondent, demonstrating a genuine concern for addressing the alleged forgery promptly after its discovery. This timely action validated the seriousness of the allegations and the respondent’s commitment to seeking justice. Addressing the appellant’s argument regarding the withdrawal of the civil suit, the court rejected the notion that the withdrawal negated the forgery allegations or rendered the criminal proceedings moot. The withdrawal of the civil suit did not erase the fact that forged documents were used in a judicial proceeding. Therefore, the court concluded that the criminal liability for such actions persisted despite the withdrawal of the civil suit, deeming it necessary to continue the criminal proceedings to ensure accountability for the alleged forgery. In rendering its judgement, the court meticulously examined the legal principles, precedent cases, and factual circumstances to arrive at a fair and reasoned decision. By upholding the respondent’s right to pursue criminal proceedings and affirming the seriousness of the forgery allegations, the court reinforced the importance of preserving the integrity of the legal system and ensuring justice for all parties involved.


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Judgement Reviewed by – Shruti Gattani

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